COLUMBUS – As federal prosecutors laid out a 38-count indictment against former President Donald Trump, former Arizona gubernatorial contender Kari Lake issued a bellicose response Friday to a cheering audience of Georgia Republican activists.
“If you want to get to President Trump, you’re going to have to go through me and you’re going to have to go through 75 million Americans just like me,” said Lake, a staunch Trump ally who lost her 2022 bid for governor.
Most of those Trump voters, she pointedly added, are “card-carrying members” of the National Rifle Association.
“That’s not a threat. That’s a public service announcement,” she said. “We will not let you lay a finger on President Trump. Frankly, now is the time to cling to our guns and our religion.”
The crowd of hundreds of delegates at a Georgia GOP convention dinner responded with a standing ovation.
She was among the many prominent Republicans at the two-day event who dismissed the federal indictment against Trump, which alleged he mishandled classified documents after leaving office and then tried to block government efforts to reclaim them.
Lake wasn’t initially scheduled to speak at the convention, but she took former Vice President Mike Pence’s speaking slot on Friday after he canceled.
Pence was likely to be booed by delegates upset he certified President Joe Biden’s victory after the Jan. 6 insurrection despite pressure to toss out the results. Lake, by contrast, earned a roar of approval when she invoked the scheduling switch.
“I really should also thank the man who didn’t show up tonight: Mike Pence,” she said, adding that she is “more than willing to fill Mike Pence’s shoes” as the crowd roared.
“I hope I’m not being controversial, but my man is Donald J. Trump.”